It was the cultural inspiration I was after to kick off the May Bank Holiday weekend – Campo Viejo the Spanish wine brand hosting a four-day celebration of wine, food and of course culture right here in London on the South Bank. The Barcelona weather trapped in the stall holders trailers at La Boqueria, so it wasn’t just the amazing wealth of hams, sausages and cheeses that they brought, they also brought the sun. Welcome to Streets of Spain – the first time Spanish market traders from one of the most best markets in the world – have come to the capital.
There’s a pop up restaurant serving plates of tapas for £5 a dish – there are six dishes to choose from – patatas bravas, emapanadilla, octopus, surf and turf, stewed oxtail risotto and croquettes. All dishes are served with a glass of Campo Viejo wine from Tempranillo to their deliciously dry Cava Brut.
As well as wine tastings under the bridge, there’s live art demonstrations from urban artists Okuda and Remed. They created a six metre high sculpture in the middle of Campo Viejo’s vineyard in Logroño. There’s also a cinema showing Spanish shorts and each night after the market, the Streets of Spain closes and the doors are open to Michelin star holder Angel Pascual’s pop up. He’s taken the Campo Viejo wine and paired it with some of the most unexpected ingredients.
Alfredo and Adrian Atkinson – the wine development directors for the Pernod Richard (who own the brand) wander around the tables explaining the wine. After five minutes chatting with Alfredo we were desperate to visit Campo Viejo’s winery in Logroño.
Or, better still find Diggy the knowledgable barman who knows everything about the wines on offer and is also rather generous with the shelled almonds and olives.
Angel Pascual comes from Osona in Spain where they make the most of what the area produces – game, mushrooms and pulses so I was expecting the food to reflect his culinary style and I wasn’t disappointed – modern Catalan dishes that celebrate the region and the sea. He’s Head Chef and owner of Lluçanès Catering, self-taught, gaining experience as a chef in Michelin star restaurants He opened Restaurant Lluçanès in 1991 and eventually gained his first Michelin star in 2000. Restaurant Lluçanès closed in 2011 but there’s bar Punx , serving tapas in the same building as their Barcelona headquarters where he concentrates on private catering and cookery classes.
Service began with an amuse bouche served in a martini glass a spicy gazpacho was poured over a mackerel and avocado base and came with a glass of Campo Cava Rose. This blush coloured sparkler is smooth and bursts with red fruits on the palate and was just the thing to temper the spicy tomato.
The tasting menu began with Supo cremosa de comenillas con huevo de cordoniz cocido a baja temperatura (seasonal wild mushrooms stuffed with traditional Spanish black pudding, served with quail egg in a cream of mushroom sauce). This came with Campo Viejo Cava Brut. This Campo Viejo cava smells fruity and you there’s a distinct aroma of honey. It was an excellent aperitif and went well with the deep earthy mushroom. Two fat juicy morels were full of black pudding and a deeply flavoured mushroom jus was poured on by the waitress at the table.
A beautiful plate of mil hojas de verdurous i setas de temporada or layered season vegetables with a potato parmentier sauce with vegetable reduction was next. A glass of Campo Viejo Tempranillo 2011 was poured with this dish. This is a very ‘gluggable’ Rijoa – a juicy, light red and incredibly smooth wine.
Arroz de barca esecpiado un punto picante com gambas de la Ionja de la Barceloneta – smoked risotto cooked with fresh prawns from the Barceloneta market. This dish looked stunning and tasted of the sea. A generous prawn sat on the side of a smoked, spicy fish rice. Cooked perfectly. A glass of the Reserva 2007 is a good match, all the taste of cherries, dark plums and ripe blackberries but there’s also a little pepper, clove and vanilla going on. Smooth on the mouth and a long lingerer.
A Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2005 was served with a plate of bite-sized pieces of duck, pork and beef with grilled seasonal vegetables. A tuft of flowering thyme protruded from the dish and the meat surrounded by artichoke, deep-fried tempura battered root vegetable and potato. The steak was superb, char-grilled on the outside and perfectly rare on the inside.
As if the plates that came before weren’t filling enough, the meal ended on bombon de chocolate, sonoro, explosive y tonificante. This was a dish bursting with flavours. An intense cube of orange jelly, a peppermint foam and a chocolate ingot painted gold and filled with popping candy ganache. Simply brilliant. A glass of the Cava Rose came with this dish.
The space is massive, and situated underneath the Royal Festival Hall the tables are full and the kitchen is an open one on the upper tier. The food was absolutely incredible and impressive and the only criticism I’d make is that the first two dishes could have done with a little more heat. The restaurant manager, James, said that it was first night teething issues and after service I chatted with Angel about it and in his broken English (my Spanish, no better) he said he was getting used to his new surroundings.
Coffee rounded off the meal which was a bargain £65 per head.
Visit their Facebook page for a list of what’s going on over the weekend and to book your place in the pop up restaurant visit the Streets of Spain Facebook page.
A massive thanks to Campo Viejo for the invite, it was a fabulous evening, rounded off with a walk across Hungerford Bridge admiring the stunning city skyline.